Monday, 9 February 2009

February 9th, 2009

I was at college when I wrote and then produced Self, and even though the script touched upon weighty ideas I've always felt as though I lacked the experience and the know how to execute it properly. Sure, for what it is I think the film works - but today, two years on, I'd do things completely differently.

For example, most of Self is told through narration - a device I used not only because it made filming easier (none of that messy boom mike business, please!) but because I was scared to write dialogue and actually have my character - Horatio Maguire - confront somebody. I made that mistake before Self, and afterwards too. But today I realise the important of dialgoue and narration-free action. Narration disconnects us as audience from what we're watching, and reminds us of the film as a means of construction. Not good, at all.

There's also a sense that Self is poorly shot, badly lit and the sound is terrible. The shooting experience I've gained since then helps me to see that, and helps me to realise that no matter what I do, that original footage will always suffer.

One option I played with was to take Self into university and re-edit the whole thing during my spare time; but then I have a problem, because I don't have any additional scenes that could be added back in to make the piece that bit more coherent, and two years on it's too late to go back and re-film scenes, or even add new ones in. I played the protagonist, and in the two years since then, I've aged like people do. Reshooting certain scenes and editing the footage won't do any good, not at all.

The problem with Self is a fundermental one; it just doesn't make sense. I watched it recently, pretending that I was just an average Joe who wasn't involved in production, nor had any prior knowledge of the thing, and it just didn't work. In an attempt to be experimental I missed the boat and totally skipped any drama the piece might have, and instead scripted and then shot several scenes that bare no relation to one another, aside from the fact that they all feature one character (who doesn't do anything anyways except narrate over himself!).

So, Self is flawed and there's no way to fix it. Right? Wrong. My solution is simple - I have to go back and rewrite the entire thing, and film it back to back with The Other. A whole new version of Self, and one that bleeds straight into the events of The Other. Instead of having two films that are sorta cousins of one another, we could now have two films that share a vital lifeline with one another's narrative.

Changes that I could now make to Self -

1: The film could look better than ever before, as I now have access to High Definition cameras - bringing you 1080i of Horatio goodness!
2: The narration - cut almost completely? Dialogue to replace what isn't needed, and also straight to camera, fourth wall breaking monolgues.
3: Other characters. Self only features 2 significant characters - Horatio, and a bit part actor he's busy bossing around. Time to bring in new faces (Horatio's girlfriend, cut from an earlier draft?).
4: The possibility of finding another actor to play Horatio.

I'm sure more benefits will come to me in time!

It'd be harder to do, yes (two scripts are more work than just the one, would you believe?!) but it's not like I haven't been thinking about how I'd improve Self for two whole years now. My head is chocka block full of ideas about stuff that could be changed, and how.

Filming back to back with The Other might be interesting, too. Maybe I can have two entirely different crews helping out, so double the exposure to new talent? Maybe sets and locations can be used, as a means of saving time and valuble money? Most of all though, and the key reason to do all this, maybe a remake as it were would give me the opportunity to better introduce the world of Horatio Maguire, and make amends for what (in my opinion) went wrong before.

With that, I'm off to rewrite the opening scene of Self, which hit me straight after I got off the bus today. It's a pretty neat opening, that borrows from the previous effort but builds upon it in a way I never imagined before. Adios!

***

UPDATED 10/2/2009 1:27am

Wow! I've planned (very roughly, mind) the first act of the brand spanking new Self, and it's almost entirely different to that original 2007 version. Oh, yes! I've reinstated Horatio's girlfriend, added three new characters, and already know that this version ends a little differently to its predecessor. Hopefully I'll plan some more of the thing tomorrow - the idea is to have Self planned out by a week Friday, and then a first draft script completed by one month today. After that, I'll turn my attention towards The Other - at last!
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